The adhesion and friction behavior of boron nitride films on 440 C bearing stainless steel substrates was examined. The thin films containing the boron nitride were synthesized using an ion beam extracted from a borazine plasma. Sliding friction experiments were conducted with BN in sliding contact with itself and various transition metals. It is indicated that the surfaces of atomically cleaned BN coating film contain a small amount of oxides and carbides, in addition to boron nitride. The coefficients of friction for the BN in contact with metals are related to the relative chemical activity of the metals. The more active the metal, the higher is the coefficient of friction. The adsorption of oxygen on clean metal and BN increases the shear strength of the metal - BN contact and increases the friction. The friction for BN-BN contact is a function of the shear strength of the elastic contacts. Clean BN surfaces exhibit relatively strong interfacial adhesion and high friction. The presence of adsorbates such as adventitious carbon contaminants on the BN surfaces reduces the shear strength of the contact area. In contrast, chemically adsorbed oxygen enhances the shear strength of the BN-BN contact and increases the friction.